There’s nothing dull about the winter garden

SPOT ON: Aucuba, the ever-reliable spotted laurel.
SPOT ON: Aucuba, the ever-reliable spotted laurel.
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Winter can have just as much beauty and interest as the awakening spring, and colour to rival that of the summer border. You just have to look a little harder.

Evergreens are always there, but that’s no reason to treat them with contempt. Used thoughtfully, they can provide the skeleton to a late autumn or winter bed or border. The dark-leaved can be used as a backcloth to highlight the light and variegated, or they can act as a windbreak.

And as for colour... the vivid yellow of winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, whose yellow blooms appear long before the plant’s leaves. Mahonia ‘Charity’ can be used to form a low holly-like hedge, but its greatest claim appears in late autumn – yellow, scented flowers arch outwards, paving the way for the equally scented Daphne mezereum, whose sweet, fragrant flowers seem to thrive in February’s frosts.

And then there’s Ilex × altaclerensis ‘Golden King’, a holly with dark green foliage edged with cream. Or Sarcococca confus , whose scented cream-white flowers perfume the winter air. .

Aucuba, the ever-reliable spotted laurel, pictured, will grow just about anywhere. The leaves are dotted with yellow and red fruits appear later. Don’t be fooled, the garden never really sleeps.